Blackhawks

Game 5: Crawford or Emery?

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Game 5: Crawford or Emery?

Corey Crawford has arguably allowed just two bad goals in this series against the Phoenix Coyotes. Unfortunately, both of them have been overtime game-winners, and have given the Coyotes a 3-1 lead in this Western Conference quarterfinal series.So with the Blackhawks facing elimination, will there be a goaltending change?Well talk about it, coach Joel Quenneville said Friday, before the Blackhawks departed for Arizona, where theyll play Game 5 on Saturday night. Crawford has been good throughout most of this series, the goals hes allowed mostly through traffic or deflections. But the back-to-back winners that Phoenix forward Mikkel Boedker got past him were soft one from a bad angle, the other barely pushed through so the question had to be asked.So will it be Crawford or backup Ray Emery? Quenneville isnt showing his hand now, and may not until game time on Saturday.We dont foresee making an announcement, he said about Game 5s starter.Crawford is certainly not the only one to blame for how this series has gone for the Blackhawks. The team has constantly talked about getting ugly goals, and that phrase was uttered again on Friday. But the talk hasnt translated into action nearly enough. Meanwhile, the Coyotes have pounced on Blackhawks mistakes and stayed patient en route to a 3-1 series lead. Mike Smiths stalwart work in goal hasnt hurt, either.We need more shots, more traffic, we need to play tight against those guys, Quenneville said. We need to be more tenacious.Meanwhile, Quenneville said there has been no change in Marian Hossas status. He is not traveling for Game 5. Brandon Saad is the only member of the black aces going on this trip.

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

One of the Blackhawks’ priorities this summer is to add pieces that will help shore up the defensive part of their game after they gave up the second-most goals in the NHL last season. And they didn’t waste much time doing it.

Less than a week before the 2019 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks announced Saturday that they have acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick.

Maatta is 24 years old, carries a left-handed shot and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. But he battled injuries last season and fell out of favor in Pittsburgh, where he was a healthy scratch for three games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks are hoping a fresh start could help Maatta find his game again, and do it in a place that may better utilize his skill-set. Where he could help is in the defensive part. 

According to The Point, Maatta ranked 9th among defensemen in blocked shots per game (2.05), 26th in defensive zone puck battles won (2.45), 40th in blocked defense zone passes (3.77) and 47th in outlet passes (8.95). 

Maatta, who was taken in the first round (No. 22 overall) in 2012, had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 60 games last season. His best year came in 2017-18 when he tallied 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 82 games. He has three years remaining on his deal that carries a $4.083 million cap hit.

It’s worth noting that when Maatta signing his extension with Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2016, the contract included a modified no-trade clause in his final two years, according to Cap Friendly. The Blackhawks will have the option to either honor that clause or nullify it.

The Blackhawks are expected to have some heavy competition among the forwards at training camp with the signings of Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin. That likely made Kahun expendable despite a rookie season in which he compiled 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

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